MICHIGAN HISTORY: The Old One-Room Schoolhouses of Ionia County
Holy cow...Ionia County has a slew of old one-room schoolhouses!
Some are abandoned, some have been renovated into homes, churches, and other establishments, including the Oldest Existing One-Room Schoolhouse in Michigan! It's historic enough to have been added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
The school was named after New York schoolteacher Alonzo Sessions, who moved to Ionia County in 1835 when he was 25 years old. He ended up marrying the daughter of Ionia's founder, Samuel Dexter, which didn't hurt his community status. From there, he was elected into the state House of Representatives, and was Michigan's Lieutenant Governor in 1876 and 1880.
Sessions wanted to continue teaching in Michigan, so in 1847, he built the schoolhouse on his own farmland property. It closed down in 1898 after the community realized that a larger schoolhouse was needed. A new schoolhouse was constructed just across the street from the cobblestone school. The cobblestone became used as a "pest house", used to contain people who were afflicted with communicable diseases, like smallpox and cholera.
In 1918, the cobblestone was restored and a bronze commemorative plaque was placed at the site. It underwent more restoration in 1958.
The newer 1898 schoolhouse across the road (Berlin Township District #4 School) is also still there, and only looks slightly larger than the cobblestone. It has a sign in front that reads "Ionia County Sheriff's Posse Clubhouse". These two old schoolhouses are located out in the country on W. Riverside Drive, approximately 5 miles southwest of Ionia.
Below are pictures of fourteen Ionia County old one-roomers, including the ones described above. A couple have been renovated in such a way, you'd never know they were once old schoolhouses.ake a drive-by and get some pictures/video of all these historic old one-room schoolhouses. It's always good to visit these places first-hand to get a real feel of Michigan's past.